Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in clothing but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Michael Silver, CEO of Silver Jeans Co., located in Winnipeg, MN, Canada.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Silver Jeans Co. is my family-owned and operated business. We have designed and manufactured denim products, primarily blue jeans, through this label for more than 30 years. With styles for men and women, including plus sizing for both genders, our target market encompasses a wide range of ages, sizes, and body types. We believe in a fit for everyone – so we offer our customers the best fashion, fantastic fits, and undeniable quality at a fair price. We sell both through our own eCommerce at www.SilverJeans.com, as well as through retail partners. Our heritage in this business goes even deeper than the three decades of Silver Jeans Co., with our parent company, Western Glove Works, having been in the workwear design and manufacturing business for over a century.
Tell us about yourself
I am a Fine Arts graduate that thought I might spend the rest of my life creating art pieces to either sell or just enjoy, but somehow I managed to join the ranks of my family’s business (Western Glove Works), making jeans. Always looking for creative outlets, I started my own brand called Silver Jeans Co. in 1991. I wanted to offer people an affordable but fantastic fitting product with great design. Since my family had been making jeans for years and really knew how to put them together, I wanted to offer them a fashion-forward line that could target a new audience. The most important thing to me was making my customers happy with the product that fit them and that they felt comfortable and stylish in. I was truly motivated to hear from my consumers and my retailers that the product fit and was loved - not necessarily that it sold - but that it was loved. I wanted to convince people that a happy customer was the best form of advertising. Thirty years later, here we are.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
My biggest accomplishment as a business owner might be divided into two parts: Firstly, I wanted to make jeans that people loved and that I was proud of, but secondly, and most importantly, I was blessed with a team that understood my passion along the way, and they ultimately became the driving force of the brand. I am so proud of my team. I think I surprised myself by building a team from really nothing to a reasonably sized company.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
To me, the toughest thing about being a business owner is that there doesn’t seem to be time to relish the successes because I’m constantly busy trying to push the cart uphill. It doesn’t seem there is time to enjoy the accomplishments since there is always more to do. Time for reflection is tough when the next challenge is just over the hill.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
My first piece of advice I always give is to stay “stupid.” What that means is – don’t try and figure it all out. Don’t try to come up with all the reasons why you shouldn’t do something because you’ll end up doing nothing. My grandma used to say one bad decision is better than no decision at all – and she was a smart lady. Make sure you allow yourself to take some calculated risks. Secondly – and perhaps most importunately – you have to be passionate about the product. It’s all about what you want people to like, and you can never sell or produce anything because it’s what they want or it fills a gap; it has to be perfect for YOU. You’ll have to be tough on yourself, and you have to go back and make that “widget” perfect, no matter how long it takes or how hard it is to accomplish.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
I think it’s so important to learn and understand almost every process of your business. I am not saying that a plumber should know how to do roofing, but I think you need to understand and, at the very least, be aware of some of the more boring parts of your business. I was a fine arts graduate that could only get a job in manufacturing; after moving through almost every job, in the end, I understood how jeans were made, how much they cost, and what they should look and function like. My great uncle used to say, “you don’t have to be a chicken to know what’s inside an egg, but it helps.
Where can people find you and your business?
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